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What Estonian "freedom fighters" did in Pskov region of Russia during WWII.

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  • #16
    Andrey, PP,

    Some very bad things happened in the Great Patriotic War. As in most conflicts there are two sides. Both of you are putting out good arguments in each of your countries favor. Please realise that you are probably not going to convince everyone.

    The good thing about this forum is how several different sides can trade information about some things they are passionate about. If I see something that seems odd, I say something, and see what the reply is. I don't think there will be a winner in this discussion. Sometimes "civilized" people should agree to disagree.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

    Comment


    • #17
      Yesterday Russian TV showed a report about the life of the Red Arny’s veterans in the Baltic States.

      A Russian journalist spoke with many men. All the veterans of the Red Army with whom he spoke disliked the processes in the Baltic States.

      They said that it is forbidden to them to carry Soviet awards of WWII-time.

      The journalist asked one of the veterans what will happen if they will put on their awards in the spite of the fact that it is forbidden.

      The veteran answered: “They can take off the awards”. Then he was silenced for a few moments and suddenly added “or to beat until the death. One my friend went in a street with his awards and they beat him till his death”.

      The journalist was amazed: “What? How did you say “they beat him till his death”? ”

      The veteran answered: “Yes, my friend was beaten till death because he put on his combat awards.”

      Another Red Army veteran spoke: “Our pension is too little. One our veteran got his pension and he had a choice: to pay a rent or to buy food. If he bought food so they would throw off him from his flat. The veteran chose to pay a rent. A few days later neighbors felt strange smell and call a police. A policeman broke the door of veteran’s flat and found the veteran. The veteran paid rent, took his full dress with a lot of combat awards from the wardrobe, put on his full dress, sat in a chair and died there.”

      Another veteran showed to the journalist the clear place in his city where there was only asphalt. He said: “There is a monument to Soviet soldiers behind of you and an “eternal fire” [a star with a fire where gas is firing constantly in the memory of the soldiers] was here. They broke “eternal fire” and covered this place by asphalt. Look on the monument. They took off the concrete names of the units from the monument.”

      The Latvian rules called in new schoolbook the concentration camp Salaspils as “educational-labor camp”. The journalist and a former victim of that camp visited the memorial in the place of that camp. The woman told how she was a girl and she said a few horrific stories about the camp.
      Then the journalist showed old monuments and said: “The Russian government offered to Latvian rules to give money to restore the memorial of Salaspils. Latvian rules answered that they don’t need help and will restore the memorial without Russian help. Look on the monuments; you see that nobody restored it.”

      Then the camera showed a clean well-groomed cemetery and the journalist continued: “Here is a cemetery of former SS soldiers. Latvian rules didn’t grudge money to this cemetery”

      The journalist spoke with a few Waffen SS veterans.

      One of them (as I remember, his name was Arnt) showed with a lot of pride few photos and books to the journalist. There were SS men in the photos. He was one of those SS men. He told: “We fought against the Russians in the region of Kharkov. We repelled the Russian offensive there”. He told it with much pride. He fought in the Eastern Front as a soldier of the Separate Volunteer SS Battalion “Narva” to which he joined voluntarily when he was 16 years old. He was wounded 9 times. He is not pity that he fought for Nazi Germany, he wanted to revenge to the Russians. Arnt wrote a few books of memoirs and these books are very popular. Arnt showed his awards and it looks like nobody disturb him to carry his combat awards. Arnt is in favour in his country…

      So if to speak about Arnt it is difficult to speak that he was only a freedom fighter and fought only in the territory of his native country against advancing Communists.

      The SS Battalion “Narva” operated in Russia (at least in Kharkov region) which is far from Baltic States. If to suppose that it was unit of the “freedom fighters” who fought against the Communists so all other volunteers’ national non-German SS units (“Viking”, “Vallonia” and so on) also can be considered “fighters against Communism” only. I don’t see a difference between Arnt and other non-German SS-men operated in the Eastern Front.

      But Arnt is in favour in his country now…

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by Andrey
        The journalist asked one of the veterans what will happen if they will put on their awards in the spite of the fact that it is forbidden.

        The veteran answered: “They can take off the awards”. Then he was silenced for a few moments and suddenly added “or to beat until the death. One my friend went in a street with his awards and they beat him till his death”.
        Odd, I just passed through a group of Red Army uniforms in full uniform and brandishing all their medals. While obvioulsy looking at them and thinking about all their victims hurts, I am not going to deny old men a chance to reminiscent old times so I just quickly moved on just like everybody else. I am quite sure I could do the same in Vilna or Riga.

        I have never heard of anybody beating any veteran for being a veteran. If somebody were beaten to death it would be major news. Right now the major news is that somebody desecrated the German cemetary near Narva and others - probably in retribution - covered the monument for conquest of Tallinn by the Red Army in red paint - I doubt things get more wilder than this. This is just the usual garbage that can be expected from Andrey.


        Originally posted by Andrey
        Another Red Army veteran spoke: “Our pension is too little. One our veteran got his pension and he had a choice: to pay a rent or to buy food. If he bought food so they would throw off him from his flat. The veteran chose to pay a rent. A few days later neighbors felt strange smell and call a police. A policeman broke the door of veteran’s flat and found the veteran. The veteran paid rent, took his full dress with a lot of combat awards from the wardrobe, put on his full dress, sat in a chair and died there.”
        Umm, it is now our fault that Russia doesn't pay more pension to its war veterans?



        Originally posted by Andrey
        Another veteran showed to the journalist the clear place in his city where there was only asphalt. He said: “There is a monument to Soviet soldiers behind of you and an “eternal fire” [a star with a fire where gas is firing constantly in the memory of the soldiers] was here. They broke “eternal fire” and covered this place by asphalt. Look on the monument. They took off the concrete names of the units from the monument.”
        Apparently this wasn't in Tallinn then. It is a good idea though. The monuments for causing unimaginable suffering to the Estonian people shouldn't be in the center of Tallinn as it is now. It should be moved to a location where people who were hurt wouldn't have to be reminded of it daily and where the Red Army veterans could still gather and reminiscent old times and tell tall tales to journalists.

        Originally posted by Andrey
        The Latvian rules called in new schoolbook the concentration camp Salaspils as “educational-labor camp”.
        Actually it wasn't a schoolbook and it was called a concentration camp in the text. Whomever read the book apparently only read the illustration caption which stated the official name of the camp using "", as in we "joined" the USSR "voluntarily".

        Originally posted by Andrey
        One of them (as I remember, his name was Arnt) showed with a lot of pride few photos and books to the journalist. There were SS men in the photos. He was one of those SS men. He told: “We fought against the Russians in the region of Kharkov. We repelled the Russian offensive there”. He told it with much pride. He fought in the Eastern Front as a soldier of the Separate Volunteer SS Battalion “Narva” to which he joined voluntarily when he was 16 years old. He was wounded 9 times. He is not pity that he fought for Nazi Germany, he wanted to revenge to the Russians. Arnt wrote a few books of memoirs and these books are very popular. Arnt showed his awards and it looks like nobody disturb him to carry his combat awards. Arnt is in favour in his country…
        Somethings a miss here. Narva was an Estonian unit so this can no longer be from Latvia. This mixing and matching of events in three very different countries to make everything seem just awful is a typical Soviet propaganda trick. I wonder what you would say, if I were to make conclusions on what was going on in Russia by taking some examples from Belarus, others from Tajikistan.

        Arnold (as I suspect his name is) has equal right to carry his combat awards around just like any Red Army veteran has, why shouldn't he have such a right? I've explained it plenty of times, why from my perspective Arnold was fighting for our freedom and hence he would be received more favorably by most Estonians. You should note however that by far the majority do not care much about WWII and consider all this ancient history.

        Originally posted by Andrey
        So if to speak about Arnt it is difficult to speak that he was only a freedom fighter and fought only in the territory of his native country against advancing Communists.

        The SS Battalion “Narva” operated in Russia (at least in Kharkov region) which is far from Baltic States. If to suppose that it was unit of the “freedom fighters” who fought against the Communists so all other volunteers’ national non-German SS units (“Viking”, “Vallonia” and so on) also can be considered “fighters against Communism” only. I don’t see a difference between Arnt and other non-German SS-men operated in the Eastern Front.
        Well, Arnold had few choices. He could flee to the forests and wait for the war to end and pick no sides or he could volunteer or let himself be drafted to fight the Red Army to ensure that the horrors of the Soviet occupation wouldn't happen again.

        If he chose to fight - he might have had a choice of trying to flee to Finland depending on where he lived and whom he knew - most didn't have this choice. If he couldn't go to Finland he could only choose to wait until drafted or he could volunteer. Initially Germans only accepted volunteers to Police Battalions and Ost Battalions - the men generally had know idea into which they would be going. Later on some men had a choice to volunteer for the SS, which political angle was unpopular, but this was balanced by the promise of superior training and weaponry. Apparently Arnold chose to fight the Soviets and wanted to do this with the best training and weaponry available. Arnold could not choose where his unit was sent afterwards. Obviously though the Germans knew the motivation of our guys and hence in the retreat all Estonian units were concentrated in the defence of Estonia, in which units where for example Arnold served fought very well, but still lost.

        BTW Finns fighting in Viking did have quite similar sentiments to Estonians. They hated the Hitler stuff, but wanted to fight the Soviets with best equipment and training available. The attitude in Finland towards its Viking veterans is pretty much the same as our attitude toward our Viking veterans.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by pp(est)
          They hated the Hitler stuff, but wanted to fight the Soviets with best equipment and training available.
          In 1939 Poland was attacked by both Germany and USSR, but not even single Pole volunteered to join Germans to fight against Soviets in 1941 and later. It is not an excuse, that USSR has conquered Baltic Countries in 1940, for joining SS and supporting Nazis. Still SS "veterans" from Estonia in July 2004 ask their goverment to recognize them as II WW veterans, they have their meetings and want to place momument.

          Why we dont make momument for SS soldiers in Auschwitz?
          "For Poles and Frenchmen, in one breath, Could put all men on earth to death !" - general Lasalle

          Vive l`Empereur ;)

          Comment


          • #20
            Pruitt, I do understand that I am not going to convince Andrey. However I canno in good concience leave his repeat of good old Soviet propaganda unanswered. In my view whomever reads this must be given the story of the other side, but more importantly I don't want to let Andrey off the hook and ignore him. I want him to be annoyed by the fact that his perfect propaganda world is not shared by the people whom - if his views of the nice Red Army would be correct - should be jumping up and down with joy right now.

            The major discrepancy in all of this is that if Andrey were correct people like me could not exist - actually my whole country could not exist.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by Nico
              In 1939 Poland was attacked by both Germany and USSR, but not even single Pole volunteered to join Germans to fight against Soviets in 1941 and later. It is not an excuse, that USSR has conquered Baltic Countries in 1940, for joining SS and supporting Nazis. Still SS "veterans" from Estonia in July 2004 ask their goverment to recognize them as II WW veterans, they have their meetings and want to place momument.

              Why we dont make momument for SS soldiers in Auschwitz?
              Nico, the situation in Poland was quite different. Unlike we, you were actually attacked by the Germans. Unlike with us, Germans did actually commit horrible atrocities with your people. For us it was the Soviets who attacked us and committed horrible atrocities. Although it did happen in agreement with Germans - unlike in Poland the Germans did not actually participate. If the reverse were true, there obviously wouldn't have been a single Estonian volunteer.

              Our WWII veterans don't have to ask the government anything. They have freedom to of speech, assembly and they may do everything else people can do in a democracy. The fact is that of the two horrible regimes, the Soviets were by far the worse for us - hence our attitude. I, as I suspect most of our SS veterans, would never had wanted Hitler to win, but they did not want Stalin to win either.

              As to Holocaust there probably isn't a more horrible crime, but if you think that to condemn Holocaust I have to embrace the horrors of Stalin, you are way off. Life between the two evil empires was not as simple.

              The bottom line is - our men fought for the survival of our people. The uniform they wore was a secondary issue - sure, all would have preferred Estonian Army uniform - sure most would have preferred to fight with our old allies the Brits - sure many did fight in the ranks of our brethren the Finns, but for most the choice was fight with what you are given or do nothing. If we as a people (our government does nothing to encourage this) do not honour those who at least tried to fight for our freedom and survival in difficult times, we might just as well disappear.
              Last edited by pp(est); 09 May 05, 05:16.

              Comment


              • #22
                In 1945 the 20th SS Division (Estonian) was fighting in Brzeg City in Silesia, later at Nysa Klodzka river and later in Czechoslovakia. I understand that this division was 'defending' Polish and Czechoslovakia people from being freed from nazi occupation?

                Just to add that in 1945 in Pommerania, 1st Polish Army was fighting against 15th Latvian SS division.

                And now those nazis want to be recozngize for II WW veterans. It would be disgrace for all soldiers and civilians fighting against nazis.

                As for Stalin, between 1939-41 more then 1 milion Poles were sent deep into Russia from Polish territories under USSR occupation (plus 50,000 officers killed in Katyn and other places in 1941).

                Many of those who were sent deep into Russia in 1939-41 were later fighting in 1st Polish Army that were created in Russia, all the way to Berlin.
                "For Poles and Frenchmen, in one breath, Could put all men on earth to death !" - general Lasalle

                Vive l`Empereur ;)

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Nico
                  In 1945 the 20th SS Division (Estonian) was fighting in Brzeg City in Silesia, later at Nysa Klodzka river and later in Czechoslovakia. I understand that this division was 'defending' Polish and Czechoslovakia people from being freed from nazi occupation?
                  Of course not. Estonia had been lost by then and by this time this division was drained and beaten and the only interest of the men in it were to survive and to reach American lines, where they hoped to join American forces in what they perceived was the imminent beginning of WWIII. Of those who reached American lines some were later in fact part of the MP unit which guarded the prisoners during the trials at Nuremburg.

                  Serving in US army was very popular among our refugees throughout the cold war. There are also few examples of men who first fought the Soviets in Finnish service, then were transferred to German service, then moved to British service.

                  BTW I am not going to claim our units were squeaky-clean with only men with great ideals who were above all the horrors of war. There most definitely were Estonian war criminals on both nazi and soviet sides. Some of our units did participate in atrocities of which all involved must be ashamed of.

                  I most definitely don't want to glorify our soldiers (including the Waffen SS) and there definitely should not be any government sanctioned Waffen SS monuments in my country (none are planned either). I am only interested in explaining why the men made the choices they made and why our attitude towards WWII vets are different.

                  Originally posted by Nico
                  Just to add that in 1945 in Pommerania, 1st Polish Army was fighting against 15th Latvian SS division.
                  I wouldn't know much about Latvians. Its quite a different country with quite a different situation.

                  Originally posted by Nico
                  And now those nazis want to be recozngize for II WW veterans. It would be disgrace for all soldiers and civilians fighting against nazis.
                  First off, the men were hardly nazis. None of them were nazi party members and from their diaries, songs and interviews with survivors it is quite clear that Hitler was despised. For example this is why most refused the SS oath. Second, they don't want anything. They simply are WWII veterans and as citizens of a free democratic country - they have all the same rights as other citizens.

                  Originally posted by Nico
                  As for Stalin, between 1939-41 more then 1 milion Poles were sent deep into Russia from Polish territories under USSR occupation (plus 50,000 officers killed in Katyn and other places in 1941).

                  Many of those who were sent deep into Russia in 1939-41 were later fighting in 1st Polish Army that were created in Russia, all the way to Berlin.
                  Obviously the Polish perspective on WWII is quite different from ours due to the very different series of events. It is quite understandable - Germans did attack Poland and killed several million Polish citizens. Of the two evil empires, Germany was clearly the worse for Poland. It is no surprise Poles wanted to fight them. However, the reverse was true for us.

                  If I'd get to change history none of it would have happened. Stalin would never had made a pact with Hitler and both of those tyrants would have been overthrown by their own people. Alas, I cannot change history.

                  BTW as you are a Pole, I would be very interesting to hear your opinion of Andrey's justification of Stalin's attack on Poland. Do you agree that since eastern Poland was ancient Russian land, Stalin was well within his rights to take it back?
                  Last edited by pp(est); 09 May 05, 07:01.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Just to add, dont get me wrong, I have nothing against Estonian, just those who has served in SS. For whatever they believed, still they 'served' evil for me.

                    For me, all of those who has joined Hitler side just for fighting against bolshevism were as evil as he was. Some of those "anti-bolshevik" units (mostly Kaminski SS-RONA units) were fighting against Warsaw Uprising in 1944 with more brutality then Wehrmarcht units. Same to UPA war criminals in Poland territory. So if some orders were written in other way it could be SS units from Batlic countries fighting against Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

                    ----

                    As for Russia this was the best Stalin move. He agreed to help Hitler in particiption of Poland, but joined war long after Hitler attacked and he called that "helping Ukrainian and Belorussia people". So Hitler was 'the bad one' and Stalin was 'just helping poor people'.

                    Of course Stalin had no right to do this and it was nothing else like war against Poland and I know that Russia will always have other opinion about that , but we cant do anything about that .

                    ------

                    BTW have You read Wiktor Suvorow (ex-GRU officer) books about II WW?
                    Last edited by Nico; 09 May 05, 07:28.
                    "For Poles and Frenchmen, in one breath, Could put all men on earth to death !" - general Lasalle

                    Vive l`Empereur ;)

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Nico,

                      Actually a number of Poles were drafted into German service from the occupied territories. That is how the Poles in Italy and France got their replacements, from POWs from German service. I don't think actual veterans of Polish service were drafted, but these Poles had to come from somewhere! I am not saying Poles volunteered for the SS, but the Wehrmacht did use Poles.

                      Pruitt
                      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Pruitt
                        Nico,

                        Actually a number of Poles were drafted into German service from the occupied territories. That is how the Poles in Italy and France got their replacements, from POWs from German service. I don't think actual veterans of Polish service were drafted, but these Poles had to come from somewhere! I am not saying Poles volunteered for the SS, but the Wehrmacht did use Poles.

                        Pruitt
                        Yes, You are talking about Poles that were living in Pommerania and Silesia that were part of Germany before 1939 and naturally they were citizens of Germany. When Germany was running out of recruits they have started to draft Poles.
                        Last edited by Nico; 09 May 05, 07:45.
                        "For Poles and Frenchmen, in one breath, Could put all men on earth to death !" - general Lasalle

                        Vive l`Empereur ;)

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Nico, well I guess we have to disagree on the SS bit, but I do know some of these types German allies did lots of horrible things. It is true that had some orders been written differently it could have been an Estonian unit in Warsaw (the Baltic countries are rather different with different histories and cultures so a generic Baltic unit doesn't mean much). However, Germans did know why Estonians volunteered and did try to use them where they were of most use - i.e. the frontline in front of Estonia and in Estonia. I can definitely understand that for you it matters little why the Estonians fought as the end results for Poland was extension of Hitler's tyranny.

                          Likewise I today had difficulties swallowing my hurt in seeing the Red Army vets with all their medals here in Tallinn (unlike what Andrey wants you to believe they can and do wear their medals and they can assemble and celebrate without hindrance here) and watching the parade on tv. For me it all meant the extension of 50 years of horrors and loss of most of my family. However I do realise that most Red Army soldiers were fighting for their motherland and did the best they could in difficult conditions - they won and hence they have every right to hold victory parades.

                          I've read Suvorov. He has interesting theories but he spoils it by doing some really sloppy research and sometimes claims he cannot back up or are just a bit of sensationalism. The effect has been twofold - on one hand - he has brought some controversial themes of the complexity of WWII eastern front into public awareness - on the other hand he has discredited some lines of research, making it hard for proper historians to pursue them without ridicule.

                          As to his primary thesis - that Stalin was going to start WWII regardless of German actions and would have attacked Hitler first had Barbarossa not messed up his plans, I can definitely agree with that, but the devil is in the details.
                          Last edited by pp(est); 09 May 05, 07:48.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by pp(est)
                            I can definitely understand that for you it matters little why the Estonians fought as the end results for Poland was extension of Hitler's tyranny.
                            I understand that Estonia was beetween to evils, still it is hard for me to understand that some want to celebrate cause they were part of Waffen-SS.
                            But everything looks diffrent from diffrent point of view.
                            "For Poles and Frenchmen, in one breath, Could put all men on earth to death !" - general Lasalle

                            Vive l`Empereur ;)

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Andrey,

                              I am troubled by the things you wrote. This Russian Journalist went and spoke to a number of Soviet Army veterans, as you said. Did he write how many were Estonian and how many were Russian? Here in the US, we are used to seeing names of the people interviewed in news stories. That way what they say can be checked and verified. If this jounalist went to only Russian Veterans, it might well slant his story some. Often times when we see that a souce of news is not named, we discount whatever is said.

                              Also, he could have looked into the story about the Veteran being beat to death. It might not have anything to do with him being a Veteran and may have even been Hooligans trying to hurt an old person. Young people like to beat on old people all over the world.

                              Where I live went through a similar thing many years after the American Civil War. A large number of Union veterans liked Louisiana and came back and settled here. They were well aware who won the Civil War and liked to remind the Confederate Veterans LOUDLY and OFTEN about it. After The Army pulled its troops out of the Southern States, Southerners got back control of their state governments. These Union Veterans were not the least bit happy and did many of the same things you wrote about. There were lots of reporters from the Northern States sent down here to "report" the "news" that Union Veterans were being treated badly. They never cared about Southern Veterans of the Union Army.

                              If Russian Veterans of the Great Patriotic War are being treated badly in Estonia and the Baltic States and can't live on their pensions, would it be cheaper and easier to live in Russia?

                              By the way, I have ancestors that fought for the Union side and the Confederate side. The funny thing is one of the "Confederates" was a Free Soiler (anti-slavery Party) and got drafted anyway. He died in training camp of Small Pox. One Union Army Veteran ancestor married an Irish woman from Virginia. Shows that two sides can learn to get along.

                              Pruitt
                              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Nico
                                I understand that Estonia was beetween to evils, still it is hard for me to understand that some want to celebrate cause they were part of Waffen-SS.
                                But everything looks diffrent from diffrent point of view.
                                Well, I doubt anybody wants to celebrate that they were part of Waffen-SS. AFAIK, all the veterans want, is to be left in peace to have their gatherings where they can reminiscent old times and celebrate the fact that they have survived.

                                I think I should also clarify a bit concerning volunteering for SS. It was only a very small minority of the Estonian SS-troopers who had actually volunteered specifically for the SS (and of those most were very young like apparently Arnold above). Most were drafted and had absolutely no choice in which unit they were put. Some had volunteered to the Wehrmacht (the number of those exceeds considerably those who volunteered specifically to SS), but were transferred to SS (for whatever reason in 1944 Himmler decided that all Estonians should be transferred to SS). Some had defected from the Red Army and again had no choice where they were assigned. Ironically some had risked their life to avoid fighting in the German uniform and had fled to Finland to fight in the Finnish uniform, but still ended up in SS after they transferred to Estonia in the summer of 1944. The transfers to SS were generally unpopular among the men and especially among Estonian officers.

                                In the gatherings of veterans I've not seen any SS runes or similar symbols. Usually only the national symbols (which the Germans had initially forbidden) are anywhere to be seen.

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